by Malik Vincent
The stage is grand when you hoist a PIAA State basketball championship.
DeAndre Kane, who is now a redshirt sophomore guard at Marshall, did just that with what people argue was the best Schenley team ever.
But everything didn’t come particularly smoothly before or after that.
(Marshall University Photo/File)
“I remember a time when DeAndre, as a ninth-grader, refused to carry things for the upperclassmen during our road trips,” Kane’s former Schenley coach Fred Skrocki said. “I told him if he didn’t do it, he’d have to leave the team and come back as a sophomore.”
And that’s exactly what he did.
“He left us and went to Carrick or something.” Skrocki added. “Didn’t play the whole year. But he showed me something that next season when he came back with no hard feelings. He was just ready to play.”
He along with current San Antonio Spurs star DeJuan Blair, and D.J. Kennedy,a former standout at St. John’s, led Schenley to the 2007 state title in Kane’s junior season.
“It was one of the most memorable and amazing feelings ever,” Kane said. “We had the most chemistry that any team could have, in my opinion. And it’s pretty cool that some compare us to some of the greats. Maurice Lucus, Jeep Kelly… All of those who made Schenley hoops and City League Basketball, as a whole, what it is.”
The year after he was heads and shoulders the best player in the City League as he averaged more than 30 points a game while leading Schenley to another City League title, but with the big guns of the previous year gone the Spartans were eliminated in PIAA play. He was the Courier’s Player of the Year in 2008. However, despite his great play many were doubtful that he was ready to compete on the Division-I level after that.
“Going to prep school was a great thing for me,” Kane said. “It was difficult at first because I knew how talented I was, but it played out to be a great decision.”
He led the Patterson School in Lenoir, NC to a No. 1 prep school national ranking and averaged more than 15 points per contest.
But when arriving at Marshall, as a partial academic qualifier, Kane was forced to sit out the entire 2009-10 season.
“He has made so many strides since he’s gotten here both as a student and as a basketball player,” said Marshall head coach Tom Herrion. “He’s such a resiliant and competitive kid. He brings that to this team and you can see that in the way he approaches his life and the game.”
Both Kane, along with his coach agree that this opportunity has been one that has also improved his life.
“It helped get me away from some of the things that I’d face if I were still home,” Kane said.
It’s an opportunity that Kane has taken to its maximum.
The 6-4, 205 pounder has led the Fighting Herd in scoring all year, with 15.8 points per game and averages a second-best 33.8 minutes.
He was the Rookie of the Year in Conference USA last season and has earned a spot on its All-Conference second team in 2012.
“He’s an exciting player to coach,” Herrion, a former Pitt assistant, said. “He’s got a big strong frame. He can score at will. We’re working on making him a more consistent shooter, but his size and physical makeup makes him versatile.”
“If he keeps working and doing the things that he’s done to improve, there’s no doubt that we can see this kid playing on the next level,” Skrocki said. “He’s just a phenomenal player.”
(Malik Vincent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@malikvincent.)